WICHITA, Kan. — U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran listened to some tough talk from his constituents Wednesday at a town hall meeting in Wichita that drew supporters of protections for young immigrants brought to this country as children, as well as outspoken critics of President Donald Trump amid the unfolding investigation into Russian interference in his election.
The Republican told the crowd of about 100 people that he is on the side of fixing the soon-to-expire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, to bring certainty to the lives of these younger immigrants. But he said there is also a need to couple it with border security, something that doesn’t necessary mean a brick-and-mortar wall.
“You want border security because every time that we reward bad behavior you could expect more bad behavior,” Moran said. “So let’s fix the opportunity for bad behavior — parents bringing kids here illegally or people crossing our border illegally — at the same time we provide certainty for people who through no fault of their own are in the United States.”
He said keeping a deal simple provides an opportunity to find common ground. When pressed whether he would support a pathway to citizenship, he replied that he doesn’t know until he sees “the whole package.”
“The question is what can Congress pass and what would the President sign,” Moran said.
Border security entails more than immigration concerns and includes other issues such as national security and law enforcement, he said.
One audience member, Diane Caton, elicited mostly applause when she launched into a long litany of complaints about the president, urging Moran not to support a man who runs down the courts, FBI and other government institutions and, who she said, creates “a daily crisis to distract us from what he is really doing.” She also urged Moran to support protections for the “dreamers” brought into the country as children.
Moran let her talk, without responding, before moving to the next constituent.
The concerns voiced by another woman about election interference sparked an impassioned response from the senator.
“It is concerning to me that we are not more focused on Russia and its engagement in our election,” Moran said. “This is an important issue. I supported sanctions against Russia as a reaction, but the key here is to do more to make certain it does not happen again — and in particular in the next midterm elections.”
Moran also expressed confidence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who he called “somebody of high caliber.”
“We need somebody in that position to reach a conclusion as to what the facts are,” he said. “That person has to have the integrity for when this is over that the vast majority of Americans believe in the outcome.”
Mueller can serve “a very useful purpose,” Moran added.
“I would ask the Administration to let the process go forward until the outcome is determined,” he said. “And then I would ask all of you and every Kansan and every American … could we please set aside who we voted for and take comfort in the fact that we now have the facts and that we can govern without a continual fight.”